Posted by Ron Edwards
Art: Manuela Soriani & Mattia Bulgarelli
Posted on October 27, 2016, in Adept Comics, One Plus One and tagged Two. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.
I like their names. In most American media, latino names sound wrong. These sound both “right” and, how do you say, literary? You know, the way character names in fiction sound better and stronger than some names in real life (like “Peter Parker”, etc).
Thanks! However, to be clear for all readers, there’s only one name on the gravestone; that’s her father’s full name and the family surname is Martinez. Martinez is more-or-less the “Jones” of Mexican Spanish surnames, with Gomez being the “Smith,” i.e., both are absurdly common. You saw her mom and one of her sisters, Tina, in the story “I Want In.”
I chose the girls’ names carefully too – they are within the range of Mexican names for girls but overlap very strongly with common girls’ names across the American middle-class. Unintentionally or intentionally, the parents were thinking of their children as fully assimilated into mainstream America.
The parents, incidentally, did not immigrate from Mexico but are native to the southwestern border area of Texas, or rather, the area appropriated by Texas. The region is extremely bilingual and rather than being bi-cultural, represents its own distinctive culture comprised of the six northern states of Mexico and extending about 100 miles north of the U.S. border all the way from the southern California coast to this part of Texas.
Houston, however, is not part of that region. Her parents moved there before having kids, which is why the kids are in fact very assimilated, for good or ill. Monica doesn’t think of herself as being bilingual although she understands Spanish perfectly and speaks it – mainly among family – without an accent.
Whoa. I didn’t think someone could do that and not consider herself bilingual.
I’m sorry about the name 😦 I feel I have to take my praise back, ha. (Yet I admit I should have remembered we already saw her mother.) It’s still entirely plausible, but I can’t know because if it is, it’s a real Mexican/Texan thing and I’m not that familiar with the culture. Where I’m from, most men called María are called José María. We also only have two names, and we’re used to mocking Mexican and Colombian telenovelas for having four names for every character, so again it might just be you’re nailing the culture too right, haha.
Now that my little confusion has brought so many written words, I want to be more curious and ask, was there any particular reason you chose “Maria” for his third name? Does the male+female sequence of names sound especially interesting? Is it a reference to the Virgin Mary, perhaps a signal that the man’s parents were especially religious?
(Oh, because yes, here in Argentina if you’re a man that gets a María in your name your family’s definitely religious. More religious than homophobic/”macho”, anyway, which sometimes is a lot to say in our culture. Before encountering your writings, I hadn’t really seen religion separate from belief, and the importance of the specificalities, but if I had to do the exercise I’d say it could even be more of an Evangelist than Catholic thing. Then again, that’d be my guess about my country, or my hometown, even, I’ve no idea about Mexico.)
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I might be getting out of my depth in that I chose his name(s) more for mellifluousness than content or precise cultural knowledge. I was definitely riffing on the multiple-name phenomenon in Mexican convention although in the States, this is considered quirky at most rather than funny. I hope my name choice isn’t completely absurd by Tex-Mex standards.
My contact with the region I described is direct in that I’m from its northwestern tip which overlaps with Left Coast culture, the Monterey Peninsula in California. Obviously I’m not from Texas, although my mother’s father arrived in the States through the region I’m talking about. My mother’s maiden name is Yzaguirre (actually Basque) and she was born in San Antonio; her mother was from New Orleans, speaking French as her first language. My mother was born to a generation who discouraged non-English languages in their children so she lost both French and Spanish by her teens.
In California, I often found myself taken to Mexican festivals and events – including the famous Teatro Campesino in the 1970s – to be the only blanco kid there. My mom looked Hispanic enough to blend in, but I don’t.
I suppose the Martinez kids would recognize themselves as bilingual if anyone really asked. They’re not accustomed to translation, for example, nor do they live in a primarily Spanish-speaking neighborhood, so they think of themselves as English speakers. I’m basing this on my wife and her siblings, actually, who speak exclusively Swedish at home but exclusively English elsewhere, without the respective accents. They sort of “realize” they’re bilingual when someone overhears,for example a telephone conversation, and asks what language that is.
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